day5day five

Today was the final day of the Of Spice & Men lab, and we finally got to the question we’ve been pondering all along: “Why do we humans like what we like?”

Imagine that there are three families of cave men living together on an island. The first family has a genetic trait that causes them to like the smell of pine bark, so they begin to experiment with grinding it up and sprinkling it on their food. The second family has a trait that causes them to prefer cinnamon bark, so they begin sprinkle it on their food. And the third family prefers their food plain.

Which family would die off first? According to our results, the “pine bark family” would be in rough shape. Pine bark might even promote germ growth, so the family would probably be exposed to several diseases. Cinnamon, on the other hand, kills germs. The “cinnamon family” would have an advantage over the “plain family.” By sprinkling cinnamon on their food, they would actually kill germs, which would make their children healthier, stronger, and less likely to get sick. Over time, the “cinnamon family” would take over the island, perhaps even passing off their cinnamon-loving genes to members of the “plain family.”

That’s evolution, my friend. And that’s the reason we enjoy the tastes of things like cinnamon, mint, and even garlic. They all kill germs! And over the course of thousands of years we have evolved to like their flavor. Just don’t combine all three. That would be one strange muffin.

April 13 – Of Spice and Men (pg614)

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